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UPDATE: Controversy Trails Celebrated UNIMAID Physicist’s World Award

On Friday, the social media was awash with the news of Nura Yakubu, a lecturer with University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Borno state, winning a “world physics championship” award.

His research article was said to have beaten 5721 nominations from 97 countries and he was declared the “pride and most important asset for Nigeria”.

Yakubu, 51-year-old mid-level cadre lecturer at UNIMAID’s department of physics, was said to have been crowned the “Father of modern EINSTEIN’S PLANETARY EQUATION studies in Physics”.

According to his profile, Yakubu was born in 1968 in Gashua, Bade local government area of Yobe state. Until 2018 when he obtained his doctorate degree, he was a lecturer 1 at the department.

The award was reportedly organised by one International Agency for Standards and Ratings (IASR), which had earlier conferred Yakubu as a fellow of the organisation’s directorate of physics.

The IASR claims to be the world’s prominent developer of standards and ratings for products, services and good practices, which includes food, water, vehicles, cosmetics, drugs, stone, plastic, paper, beverages, tobacco and others.

Aside issuing honorary doctorate degrees, IASR certification “provides customer satisfaction. No matter how big you are, public or private, and in what industries or sectors you do business, we are here to help you work smarter and reach your goals”.

Although it touts the world championship as the biggest physics tournament on earth, the AISR did not state which article won Yakubu the award. The organisation did not also include its physical address on the site.

However, there have been a lot of questions about the credibility of the award.

In an interview, Danjuma Gambo, spokesman of UNIMAID, told pressmen that neither Yakubu nor the “organisation that gave him the award” have contacted the university about it.

“He is a member of staff. We have seen what is being reported on social platforms. We are yet to hear from Dr. Nura himself. We are yet to hear from the organisation that was reported to have given him the said award,” Gambo said.

“The university has a framework for authenticating such information. We don’t want to comment on whether it is fake or genuine.”

Meanwhile, in 2018, the organisation had conferred upon one Abosede Otemuyiwa, a language lecturer with Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU), winner of the world championship in semiotics for “great scientific contribution”, saying she stood out of 5228 nominations from 69 countries.

In a Facebook post, Farooq Kperogi, Nigerian-born associate professor of journalism at Kennesaw State University, US, described the award as a “scam operation”.

“The truth is that Dr. Nura is the willing victim of a scam, a kind of scam I call scams of ego, which prey on the status anxieties and low self-esteem of insecure, fraud-prone people,” he wrote.

“World Championship, the ‘organization’ that conferred the ‘award’ on Dr. Nura, is a well-known scam operation that does not, for strategically fraudulent reasons, have a site with its own domain name. It uses a free sites.google.com account to perpetrate its scams.

“Anyone who pays a fee can get any—I mean ANY—award from the site. Check the site (link provided in the comment section below) to see the list of “award winners” it features in every imaginable field. You will find many Nigerians there. Some past Nigerian “winners” even managed to scam the ever credulous Nigerian news media into publicizing their “feat.”

“For instance, one Dr. Kaywood Leizou of the Niger Delta University (NDU) got a newspaper to write a story about his ‘award’ from this same fraudulent site on October 19, 2018. Titled ‘Bayelsa don wins global chemical sciences contest’.

“In 2018, the same website ‘conferred’one Dr. Shuaib Idris Mohammed of Edo State with the “World Champion in Agricultural Extension (Credit Facilities)” award “out of 91 countries.” The site added: “Dr. Shuaib Idris Mohammed is now recognized as Father of modern Credit Facilities in Agricultural Extension.

“But nothing in Nura’s scholarly record—and those of others who have been made ‘fathers’ of whole disciplinary specialties by the fraudulent site—suggests that he is anywhere close to the pinnacle of his career. In fact, most of his articles are published in dodgy, predatory journals that publish ANYTHING submitted to them for a fee.”

There have also been reactions on Twitter. One Usman Warha said Yakuku had fallen for the gimmicks of “scammers”.

“Dr. Yakubu Nura was my lecturer in the University, an active and brilliant one. However Scammers have no respect for short sightedness. I believe with this Nigerians would “shine their eyes”,” he said.

“I had my reservations when I saw that Dr. Nura Yakubu had become “the father of Einstein’s Planetary Equation” or whatever that scam is called,” Alihu Yakubu said.

“He was my lecturer at University of Maiduguri. I know him.”

Ayo Bankole also noted that the award was given by a predatory organisation.

“Senator, World Physics Competition is a predatory organisation, i.e a fraud entity, who charge unsuspecting researchers some fee for a bogus award that has 100% chance of winning, once you pay. This is one of such award and in no way represents Dr Nura’s academic prowess,” he said.

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